Written and Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you.
The plot in a nutshell: A bear (supposedly) has an adventure that ends in the theft of a sandwich.
The story of the missing sandwich starts with a bear who discovers a truck full of freshly picked strawberries. He starts eating them and then falls asleep in the truck. When he wakes up, the truck is in the city, which he explores, imagining it to be a new strange forest. He plays on a playground in a park and there he sees a sandwich in a lunchbox. He sneaks up on it and starts eating. Just as he’s finishing the sandwich, he hears a sound behind him and turns around to discover a row of dogs behind a fence, watching him. Having been discovered, the bear runs away and climbs into a boat that floats down the river, returning him to his forest home. Then we see that this whole story is being told by a dog, who says he tried to save the sandwich but looks pretty guilty.
How could anyone possibly walk past the cover of this book without wanting to pick it up and read it? Author/illustrator Julia Sarcone-Roach follows up that awesome cover with a corker of an opening line, too. Again, I can’t imagine anyone reading that without having their curiosity piqued for the full story. The fact that the story is being told in second person point of view makes the whole thing instantly more personal, which invests you in it from the very beginning.
The artwork is done in acrylic and pencil, with loads of humor in the illustrations. The book’s endpapers feature multiple pictures of sandwiches in the front which have changed to pictures of crumbs and empty wrappers at the end. I love the way Ms. Sarcone-Roach shows us the bear’s exploration of the city as though it’s just another forest environment. And the reveal at the end, when we see that this whole story is being told by a dog, is awesome. We then, of course, have to question the validity of the story, which makes it even funnier if the dog came up with all those story details on his own. It’s a really funny book.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that not every storyteller is completely trustworthy, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the corroborating evidence.